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How To Build A DIY Telecaster Guitar, Part 4

How To Build A DIY Telecaster Guitar, Part 4

Welcome back to the fourth and final part of my DIY Guitar Telecaster build series. It's finally done! Enjoy, and make sure to stay tuned for the tone demo towards the end of the video.

Tools Used:

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Guitar Specifications:

Warmoth Neck Specifications:

  • Style: Warhead Construction: Modern Construction
  • Scale: 25-1/2”
  • Shaft Wood: Birdseye Maple
  • Fretboard Wood: Ebony
  • Right/Left: Right Handed
  • Nut Width: 1-11/16”
  • Neck Profile: Standard Thin
  • Radius: 10”-16” Compound Radius
  • Number of Frets: 22
  • Fret Size: SS6105 Stainless
  • Tuner Ream: Schaller (25/64” 11/32”)
  • Inlays: Mother Of Pearl Dots
  • Side Dots: White Side Dots
  • Pre-Cut Installed String Nut: GraphTech White TUSQ XL
  • Mounting Holes: Standard 4 Bolt
  • Finish: Clear Satin Nitro

Tone Demo Equipment:

DIY Guitar Build Process

Unfortunately, I lost a little footage of me rounding over the edges of the guitar. I used a compact router and an ⅛” radius Whiteside roundover bit and rounded over the front and back edges of the guitar.

After that, I sanded the guitar to remove any tool marks. I started with 120 grit sandpaper, sanding the edges, and then used the same 120 grit paper to sand with the grain on the front and back sides of the guitar. I just kept sanding until I started to get a finish that I liked. I had read that it’s best to sand with the grain in this circumstance, so that’s what I did. I moved up to 220 grit paper after the tool marks were removed. I only had sanding discs in 220 grit, so I wrapped them around a dowel and that worked pretty well. Finally, I used a random orbital sander with 320 grit sandpaper as a final sanding.

Next, I began applying the finish. I used Danish Oil, which really made the grain pop. You flood the surface with the oil and the wood will soak it up like a sponge. You continue doing that until it stops absorbing the oil, usually after 15-20 minutes, wipe off the excess, and let it sit for about 24 hours.

After 24 hours, come back and lightly sand the surface with 320 grit paper, remove any sanding dust, and repeat the flooding process. The guitar will absorb much less oil on the second round. Wipe off the excess and either wait 24 hours and do a third coat or, as I did, let sit for another 72 hours and the finish should be cured.

Next, I installed the tuners on the neck. I used Schaller locking tuners, and just eyeballed the alignment, which worked out fine. I also had to add an additional hole to my pickguard, as the Warmoth pick guard I got didn’t follow Fender’s specs as far as hole spacing, and I had to have precise spacing for the Elek-Trix wiring kit.

Next, I drilled a hole for the jack plate and input jack. I used a Forstner bit for this, and then installed the jack plate. Then, I drilled holes from the pickup cavities into the control cavity using a long ¼” drill bit. These holes are where the pickup wires run through to meet with the controls.

After that, I installed the bridge. I’m using a Gotoh bridge on this build, which is definitely not a traditional style Telecaster bridge but I really wanted each saddle to be adjustable for intonation. To install the bridge, you loosen the saddles, turn them on their sides, and then you have access to the holes for the bridge screws. There are four bridge screws that hold the bridge onto the body of the guitar. Off camera, I also pressed in the string ferrules on the back of the guitar.

Next, I positioned the pick guard where I wanted it and drilled the holes for the screws and then screwed down the pick guard. I installed the strap buttons, wired up the pickups, screwed on the neck, and strung up the guitar. That's it!

Thank you for following this lengthy DIY guitar build. I knew it was going to be tough going in, but I don't think I realized just how tough. The amount of precision required in guitar building it much higher than standard woodworking projects, and the process is fairly tool intensive. I definitely learned quite a bit, though, and can't wait to build my next guitar!

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